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Throwback Thursday:Gone antiquing


Hello friends, for today’s Throwback Thursday post, I thought I’d write about a recent antique show we visited.  I was pretty happy with the show as it was a very good show full of nice furniture, interesting curios and some beautiful jewelry.  As always  my main focus is jewelry but I have to admit that some pieces of furniture caught my eye.  One dealer had this cool vintage red piece (pictured above) that was actually used to store hardware tools.  It was really nice and for awhile there, I could see it as a new home for my beads.  But did I really need another piece of furniture for my beads?

Another dealer was himself a cabinet maker and restaurer of old furniture.  He salvages old glass window frames and builds new cabinets and bookshelves around them.   One example is the bookshelf pictured below.  I love the idea of being able to save these glass frames and doing something completely different with them!


Of course, I lingered longest over the stands with the most interesting jewelry and curios. One stand had a gorgeous collection of buckles from the Victorian times,


as well as pretty miniature frames.


Another person had gorgeous Victorian era bangles and my favorites were the ones with the unusual black enameling.  Aren’t they pretty?


But my favorite was this complete children’s tea set from the James W. Tufts company from Boston. I love tea sets and this set of 6 teacups came complete with all the little tea spoons along with the teapot, creamer and sugar bowl.  The Tufts company was founded in 1875 in Boston where it quickly became a successful business in silver plated tableware.    This set is quite rare because of it is still complete and is in fine condition.  I still can’t believe that this tea set was made for children!  IMG_4020

It was such a nice afternoon spent among lovely things.  Hopefully with the arrival of spring (though winter seems to be lingering given the below freezing temperatures we are still experiencing!) there will be other equally interesting antique shows!

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The great bead adventure, part 2

Hello friends, I hope you had a wonderful weekend!  I thought I’d start the week off with the second part of my great bead adventure!  This time, I wanted to tell you all about my favorite part of the trip–the collectible beads!

Before setting out for Tucson,  a friend told me to set a budget and to stick to it.
When I saw the collectible beads, I realized what wise counsel that was and how utterly impossible to follow. There were beads there that I’ve only ever seen in books or museums! There were strands of the rare and beautiful, the old and uncommon to the more ordinary beads. Mixed in with all the collectibles were the newly made beads and there were heaps of those. I quickly learned that the most special strands were kept in glass boxes. These were the strands that cost a small fortune. Some dealers kept what they called “pocket pieces” or loose beads sold separately and these ranged in price to 10$ a bead to 140 a bead. And I’m not even talking about the ancient stone beads!

It was really cool to see so many different varieties and to be able to hold them and see up close all the ways they are different from each other. And I realized that this is  the best way to learn how to tell whether a bead is really old or merely a reproduction. Because there such a demand for collectible beads, there are some unscrupulous people who would take advantage and pass off reproductions as old. Or there are some who simply don’t know what they’re selling. So this was an invaluable learning experience for me.

Here are a few photos of the more memorable strands and beads.  I hope you enjoy these pictures as much as I enjoyed taking them!!

This first strand that caught my eye was also one of the most expensive ones at 4000 dollars. It has a several 6 layer Chevron beads, a huge German marble bead, rare Prosser chevron beads, a few  older barrel trade beads.


One strand we looked at had a broken bead with writing on it.. the entire set consisted of three beads with the writing J Walker Co. Very rare to see one of them and the rest of the tabular beads were pretty too..


This is a collection of unusual Millefioris including 2 stands of Moretti beads… price range of these beads from 500 to 1200+ dolla



The pink strand was one of my absolute favorites–pink feather beads, pink eye beads and the pineapples.  I’ve never seen the blue and white with aventurine stripes in the second strand pictured here. 1400 for each of these strands.   20140221-150556.jpg

A collection of loose Millefiori beads in the rare football shape..price range 100-200 dollars per bead20140221-150740.jpg

Another collection of pocket beads..the beads pictured here are older, early 19th century or even earlier for some of the folded beads.20140221-150811.jpg

A beautiful collection of Viking era beads, the real deal as opposed to the Indonesian made replicas.


And last but not the least,  several strands of etched ancient carnelians, price range 3000 to 7000 dollars a strand..  Very special treat to see these authentic strands as there are so many reproductions available today.DSCN4214


Now you see my this was my favorite part of the whole trip!

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The great bead adventure, part I


For about three weeks in February, the town of Tucson, Arizona is taken over by  jewelry, beads, rocks and minerals thanks to the Tucson Gem and Mineral show.  The name itself is a bit misleading as there are, at last count, 38 shows during the show. It is the biggest fair of its kind in the US. Over 55,000 people come from all over the world to gather with other like minded afficionados. For someone with an interest in gems, minerals, beads and jewelry, this is the place to be. Nowhere else in the world would you see such variety and the sheer number of things on display is staggering.


The show that began it all, the Tucson Gem and Mineral show, started out, humbly enough in 1955, when a group of mineral and rock collectors from the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society decided to hold a free exhibit at a local school. It was such a success that they decided to hold another one the year after.  Now, this Gem Show has moved to the Tucson Convention Center and a host of different shows have sprung up in various locations in town. It has gotten so big that even such institutions like the Smithsonian and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History have booths showing a portion of their collection.

One of the many giant amethyst rocks
One of the many giant amethyst rocks

I first heard about Tucson more than 10 years ago when I bought my first strand of sugilites from a dealer who came from Tucson.  He had a dazzling array of stones, some of which I’d never seen before.  And he told me that Tucson was where I could go and find everything and anything I could possibly want in gems.  Fast forward to present times and I found out that even my beloved trade beads could be found in Tucson. Now I really  wanted to go. Miraculously enough, a way was found, a few days  carved out of daily life’s routines and I could spend a few days being in bead heaven.


What I found far exceeded any of my expectations.  One thing I learned fast was that its impossible to see everything. And I wanted to see everything!! A friend who has done the show at least twice and has been to all the shows, put it in perspective “you can see all the shows, but it doesn’t mean you can see every booth there is.”  There’s just so much to see.  There were 38 shows when I went but each show had numerous sellers and booths, with the bigger shows hosting easily 100 vendors, maybe more.  The trick is to decide on your priority and to stick to it.  I wanted to see antique beads and gems so I duly limited myself to the shows carrying the best selection.  All told I went to about 10 shows.   Not bad for a first timer I thought.

Even by limiting myself, it was so easy to get overwhelmed by the shows I did get to visit. I found myself gawking at everything.  There were huge mammoth tusks and fossils from all over the world. And tubs and tubs of every kind of gem and mineral that could possibly be mined from the earth.


Another favorite--the tourmaline embedded in quartz
Another favorite–the tourmaline embedded in quartz
Rows and rows of fossils.
Rows and rows of fossils.

And while there were plenty of rough gems and minerals, there was no shortage of the finely cut, high end gemstones as well. I had the pleasure of meeting John Dyer, who has received numerous awards for his work in cutting gemstones and the selection he had on display was magnificent.20140219-165639.jpg

I love gems in the pink spectrum and he had the biggest morganite I ever did see.  The morganite  is the pink stone in the middle and the the spinel (the big read one next to it) was not too shabby either–22 karats big and a whooping 269,000$!  I got nervous holding on to their cases!!!


Just thinking about them makes me weak in the knees. Whew!

So far I’ve talked about gems and minerals, but I haven’t yet told you about the beads.  That’s another story altogether. Tune in tomorrow for the next installment….





































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At work


I’ve had this vintage charm for a few years now. I remember finding it at a small brocante in Paris and thinking to myself how pretty it was amongst the table full of charms. It’s on the older side of vintage, probably dates back to the late 30s and it must have formed part of a festoon style necklace. Alas, when I chanced upon it, the rest of the whatever necklace it was part of, was long gone.
So it’s been sitting in my charm box, never forgotten because I love it, but I didn’t quite know what to do with it. It seems like such a singular piece and not easy to match with other beads.
Today, I decided to take it out of the box and it occurred to me that I might make my own festoon style necklace. I’ve already put the chains in but it’s missing something more. It’s back to the bead box I go!


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Show recap

Hello friends! I’m happy to report that my first show for 2014 went extremely well.  I have to confess that getting up that morning was a bit hard. Its been awhile since the last show and it took some time for me to get moving. But once I arrived and started to see all the beautiful things, I got all excited.  As a concession to Valentines Day, I decided that my stand could do with a touch of red and pink.

DSCN4237 DSCN4244

It was my first time to do an all jewelry show and I was uncertain how it would turn out. Fortunately, it proved something I’ve always thought which is that there’s jewelry for everyone’s taste.   So long as it was beautifully made, there’s someone with a taste for the different artists creations.  And there certainly was all manner and kind of jewelry at the show —-from polymer clay bead jewelry from Woodland Caravan to Victorian inspired baubles from Victorian Rose Boutique, to repurposed vintage jewelry from Calendar Girl, who it must be said also makes fantastically ornamented frames, bags and jewelry boxes! It was a blast being surrounded by beautiful things and hanging out with such talented people.

And while it was mostly jewelry, I have to tell you about one lady who was there with something else entirely.  Bird Brain Accessories by Jesska Christie is a line of whimsical and pretty hair accessories featuring birds and flowers.  I’m sure that wearing one of her creations will brighten up any dull day of the week!



All in all, a great start to the 2014 show season!!

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Valentines Day

Happy Valentines Day dear friends! It’s that (dreaded, for some) time of the year when love is on everyone’s mind. And while it might be argued that this is a purely commercial holiday, it doesn’t hurt to remember all those we love and to let them know in some small way that we hold them close to our hearts.


And if you or a loved one are looking for a special bauble, don’t forget to come see me at the Vintage Jewelry sale tomorrow!!! I’m very excited and hope
to see many of you there!

And because it’s Valentines and a Friday to boot, I couldn’t resist sharing this list of the 50 most romantic movies .

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I don’t remember anymore when or why I signed up to receive Afar magazine but I’m certainly glad to have done so! Its such a wonderful travel magazine. Its the best way to quickly get away from it all, without ever leaving the comfort of your chair.  I just finished their latest one and the article that struck me the most was its feature on the Silk Road.  Photographer Frederic Lagrange set out to travel the remote region of the Wakhan Corridor which formed part of the Silk Road.  His images are just amazing and out of this world beautiful.  I was beyond pleased when I realized that there was an accompanying video to the article to be found in the Afar website.  I just have to share it with you and I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did!



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Upcoming sale

Birmingham jewelry sale


The start of the year is always a bit quieter than the rest of the year.  I suppose its because everyone needs a bit of time to recover after all the holiday parties and festivities. I usually take this time to think about the new collection and what shows I want to do for the coming year.

This year I have a unique opportunity to participate in a post Valentines Day show. It will be my first time to do a show so early in the year and right after Valentine’s Day too!  This time around its an all jewelry show so I’m quite excited to show the first pieces from the new collection as well as see what everybody else is bringing. This is the perfect opportunity to pick up a bauble or two to chase away the winter blues.  I think we all need something pretty as winter is clearly having a blast with us this year!

Hope to see you all there!